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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

It’s Raining Diamonds on Giant Icy Planets

An international study partnership has discovered that diamond rains are relatively frequent in our galaxy

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Russell Chattaraj
Russell Chattaraj
Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

UNITED STATES: Experiments on Earth show that diamonds practically fall from the sky on frigid giant planets like Neptune and Uranus. They may even point to a new method of creating microscopic nanodiamonds for use on Earth.

Neptune. Photo Credit: Twitter

An international study partnership has discovered that diamond rain may be relatively frequent throughout the galaxy, contradicting earlier findings that claimed genuine diamonds might be present in rain and hail in the atmospheres of giant planets, including Saturn.

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The earlier trials were modified by scientists from Germany, France, and the US using a new substance resembling the chemistry present on ice giants. It turns out that this mysterious substance is a type of PET plastic often found in store-bought bottles, not at all unique. In essence, quantities of oxygen that weren’t present in the earlier studies were added by, the more realistic chemical combination in the plastic.

They then zapped the plastic with a laser to simulate the atmospheric pressures on such planets to see what would happen, using it as a stand-in for the chemistry of an ice giant’s atmosphere.

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Dominik Kraus, a physicist and professor at Germany’s University of Rostock, stated that oxygen’s function was to speed up the splitting of carbon and hydrogen and so promote the synthesis of nanodiamonds. It made the bonding and formation of diamonds between carbon atoms simpler.

In other words, there is more oxygen in the actual environment of frozen gas giant planets, and more oxygen equals more diamonds.

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The team, which also comprised scientists from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Silicon Valley and France’s École Polytechnique, released its work on Friday in Science Advances.

Surprisingly, the experts assert that conditions on Neptune or Uranus may create diamonds with a carat weight of millions. Over 3,100 carats is the largest diamond ever discovered on Earth. It’s even possible that the planets’ cores are covered in a substantial covering of diamonds.

Mega diamond digging on other planets won’t be practical for quite some time, but the research may offer fresh ideas for creating nanodiamonds. Such tiny gems could be employed in sensors and renewable energy technology in addition to their current use in some polishes.

According to SLAC researcher and colleague Benjamin Ofori-Okai, “nanodiamonds are now generated by taking a pile of carbon or diamond and blowing it up using explosives.” The creation of nanodiamonds might be made cleaner and easier to manage using lasers.

To obtain a more accurate understanding of how diamond rain originates and the mechanisms that can produce the gems out of thin (or thick) air, the researchers are planning additional experiments that will modify the chemistry involved.

Also Read: Technical Difficulties Hinder NASA’s Artemis-1 Launch Again

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  • Russell Chattaraj

    Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

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